It is no surprise; as I reflect on the times I anticipated a new role, project or career shift, I inevitably experienced fear and self-doubt.
My self-doubt ranged from my finances, to my title, to my career choices, and to my self-defined value which translated into fear. Even though my spiritual energy assures me, I should leap, my ego seems to swoop in and convince me that I was not ready and frankly not capable.
I now realize these fears [often driven by my ego] can have a tight hold on me if I let them:
- The fear of losing it all
- The fear of being in substantial debt
- The fear of being seen as not worthy
- The fear of not being loved
- The fear of not being accepted
- The fear of not belonging
- The fear of being seen as nothing, as irrelevant
- The fear of not getting there [Still not sure where there is but my ego continues to remind me I have to keep going, as I have a long way to go.]
Yes, these are some of my fears and they appear as often as I let them. Especially, if I am not mindful of their arrival, they will happily impact my decisions, self-worth and next steps.
After hours of research, reading and soulfully exploring, my spiritual-self led me to a place of more knowledge. Even with knowledge, I could not turn off these fears like a switch; I had to work at love and gratitude continuously, which had to start from within me.
My fears took years to wrestle to a place of obedience. I am laughing as I write this because they reappear more than I would like to admit. That is why practicing mindfulness allows me to recognize their devious actions and intercept them.
My learned awareness now distinguishes these internal actions that drive my external decisions. If present, I am keenly aware when my ego kicks in and my fears [pick any from above] heighten my insecurity that then creates a story I tell myself. These stories can take on the narrative of:
- I am not good enough
- I am not smart enough
- I should not be doing this now
- I am ill prepared
- I feel silly and even stupid
- I am not the right person for this
- I wish I had their ___________
- If only I was _______________
Can you relate? For me, the fear created by any one of these could quickly convince me to stay put, stay in the shadow. Can you see how your internal narratives could be driving your decisions and maybe even your path in life?
Take a look at your mind-based chatter, perceived barriers, and investigate the shadows you hibernate as a result of your internal stories.
What kickstarted my ability to slow down and recognize my thoughts created by my ego, was a great book by Brene Brown, Rising Strong, How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Brene shares specific actions to create separation from your ego by digging into your thoughts, and weeding through the emotions. This exercise will help you come out on the other side more knowing and aware of how your thoughts, actions, and outcomes are intertwined. I highly recommend this book and practices which help create space and alignment for me.
Standing in the Shadows
From my research, I learned that men and women suffer from self-doubt equally. This doubt can push us into the shadows of our life by diluting our self-worth and eventually our confidence which could prevent us from embarking on or stepping into new levels of contributions and impact.
A question I have explored: How long can we choose to hide in these shadows before our life’s work is compromised?
How does this happen? From what I have experienced [firsthand and with other professionals] is that it happens over time. If allowed, our ego drives the conversation in our head to which we attach feelings and then decisions that can push us into our shadows or our light. The great news is that we get to decide where we want to live based on how we choose to handle our ego.
Overcoming this self-talk created by your ego takes work. Breaking away from this self-doubt even for small amounts of time is necessary when you are looking to embark on new endeavors for which you have more limiting experience or knowledge.
Yes, it is difficult to move away from society’s norms, and our mind’s chatter, and the perceived acceptance of others. Our ego has a unique way of reassuring us that when you get to a certain level or save a specific amount of money or obtain a certain physical state, then you can consider moving more into your light.
To that mind-chatter or ego-driven negative voice, I say: “step to the side.” You have the power to overcome those career-negating thoughts and reach the goals you’ve set. Be mindful of your internal chatter, managing it fiercely, so you can reach your desired goals.